Download docx - DUMC

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

God in Christianity wikipedia, lookup

Holocaust theology wikipedia, lookup

Binitarianism wikipedia, lookup

God in Sikhism wikipedia, lookup

God the Father wikipedia, lookup

Jews as the chosen people wikipedia, lookup

State (theology) wikipedia, lookup

Misotheism wikipedia, lookup

Thou shalt have no other gods before me wikipedia, lookup

Christian pacifism wikipedia, lookup

Trinitarian universalism wikipedia, lookup

Re-Imagining wikipedia, lookup

Blessing the Nations: How & Where?
Saturday’s Celebration: By Living for God in the Midst of the Nations
(Exodus 19:1-6)
By Reverend Dr Chris Wright
Who are we? What are we here for?
What is the church? What is the reason of our existence on the planet?
Who are you? What are you here for on God’s earth?
Answers to the above questions depend on what story are we living in. We all have our life and our personal
stories to tell. Somehow or rather, we all live within a bigger story. For example, in the cultures around the
world, we have been living with the basic idea that there is a story of human progress- things we hope are
getting better and we want to try to make things better, so that the world will be a better place. Therefore,
humans speak in a way that brings forth the intention for a better future on earth, for the benefit of our
descendants. Even when terrible tragedies occur, such as when someone is killed while trying to help others,
some of us tend to respond in a positive way, saying that the sacrifice is not in vain and that something good
will come out of it. It is a big assumption of the world we live in.
What story are you living in?
Alternatively, we may also create a story of our own, like what the atheists are doing. The New Atheism holds
the view that the universe came from nowhere and going nowhere. It is just going from the big bang to the
big crunch, and in between we are just a random collection of atoms bumping around. There are no stories,
no purpose and no meaning. The contention of
this group is, obviously, that there is no God. In
January 2009, the Atheists Society in London
launched a controversial advertising campaign,
featuring the slogan “There’s probably no God.
Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” on
Britain’s trains and buses.
One of the responses to the ad was rather
unique: A church in the rural part of England,
which has a bus stop outside their church, put a notice side-by-side the church, saying,
Back to the Atheist group’s campaign, that is not much of a story. It does not give us any reason to live or to
die - there is no meaning in life. That is a negative faith. Here is the story of positive faith:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not
perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 1 of 11
That is a story. It has a beginning, a problem, a solution and an ending. That is the Gospel story.
What is the story told in Exodus 19:1-6?
On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the
Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped
there in the desert in front of the mountain.
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you
are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves
have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now
if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are
the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
The very same questions posed earlier are equally applicable in the story
above: Who were the Israelites and what were they there for? What happened
in Exodus 19 at Mount Sinai was just a very small slice of God’s bigger story
that shaped the whole of the Bible, spanning the whole of the universe, and
includes the past, the present and the future. It is that Bible story which
ultimately told the Israelites who they were and what they were there for. It is
also this story that gives us Jesus Christ; and through that story that He knew
whom He was, and what He was there for, because He had come to fulfil that
story, and it is our story that gives us the meaning and purpose of our lives in
this world.
… Exodus 19:1-6 is still just part of that big story.
A brief summary of the story leading to Exodus 19:
The people of Israel (household of Jacob) had gone down to Egypt as economic refugees/migrants during a
famine in the land of Canaan (Israel). As years go by the Israelites multiply, grown and become strong in the
land of Egypt. The government in Egypt changed and the new king was threatened by the numbers of the
Israelites (Hebrews), fearing that they may join the enemies during war and fight against them. As such, he
enslaved all Israelites and gave an order to kill all the newborn Hebrew boys, though many survived because
the midwives feared God. One of them who survived was Moses, who was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter.
Many years later, after the brutal king had died, the Israelites groaned about their slavery in Egypt. God
heard their groans and remembered His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God sent Moses to lead the
Israelites out of Egypt, and the 3-months-journey was filled with hardship and adversity before they reached
the Promised Land, Mount Sinai, where God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses.
In Exodus 19:1-6, God explained the past (what had just happened); points to the future (what God is
ultimately intending); and called for response in the present (God giving an expectation of what he wanted
from them in the present).
1. PAST Grace of God’s Salvation (v.4)
“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’
wings and brought you to myself.”
In verse 4, God said to Moses, "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt…”. Those are the first words
God said when he told Moses what to tell the Israelites, before
telling them what He wants them to do (the Ten
Commandments). Just three months ago, these people were still
slaves to the Egyptians, whipped, beaten, oppressed and suffering
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 2 of 11
from the genocidal instructions of Pharaoh in killing all Hebrew new born baby boys. Nevertheless, God
brought them out of the situation as an act of His love, grace and faithfulness. God had kept His promise.
God points back to His grace in action, the saving, liberating and delivering grace. The next thing that
happened in this story is that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, makes a covenant with His people,
and live in those who follow the commandments. All these are based upon the grace of God, which had
already saved them.
In this story, salvation and grace come first.
It is therefore of note that based on the Old Testament, one can get saved by keeping God’s law, whereas in
the New Testament, we are saved by grace alone. Applicable to today’s understanding, both adherence to
His law and receiving the grace of God is equally important. God saved His people first by bringing them out
from Egypt, and then telling them what to do. Grace and salvation comes first. As mentioned earlier, when
God spoke to Moses about the Ten Commandments, He did not begin with the first commandment, but He
said this instead, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Exodus
20:2). The Ten Commandments begin with the Gospel of God’s salvation: “I have redeemed you, and now I
want you to love in this way.”
It is the same for Christians today. There are commandments in the New Testament, and we are still under
an obligation to God to obey Him and to love Him: “If you love me, keep my commands,” said Jesus (John
14:15). It is interesting to note that those commandments are always preceded by the grace of God. For
a) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
(John 13:34)
b) “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
c) “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
(Ephesians 4:31-32)
d) “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans
Obedience is a response to grace and what God has already done for us. It is not living the life of how a
Christian ought to live. We cannot live the way God wants us to live until we have first experienced the grace
of God that brings forgiveness and the salvation of God. In our life as Christians, including our work of
mission, we must be grounded on God’s grace. Whatever we do for God, it is because of what He had first
done for us.
2. FUTURE Grace of God's Mission (v.5)
“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be
my treasured possession.”
Albeit God’s omnipresence, picture this, God is standing at the top of Mount Sinai. The Israelites present
there seeing His Glory and Might thinking, “I am nobody, no one in this world matters.” But in verse 5, God
said, “…out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” It is as if God is correcting that, telling the
Israelites of their importance and how special they are to God, and should never think that they are the only
people on earth that He cares for.
There should be a balance between particularity and universality. God had just rescued one nation, the
Israelites, from bondage and slavery. But God’s big purpose, throughout the rest of history, was to offer
redemption, liberation, salvation to people from all nations, from a particular to a universal. What God is
doing to one person, is for all people; one land was for all the earth. That is the big story, the vision, the
dream and mission of God.
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 3 of 11
This is the very same God of Abraham, whom God had promised to bless all nations:
“…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3).
Rev Dr. Chris Wright shared about his experience of taking pictures of his
sons playing football for the school team, using his SLR camera attached to a
400mm-long joint telephoto lens. He usually kept both of his eyes open while
taking pictures: One eye looking into the frame that gave him a closed up
view of his firstborn son, Tim, during the play (telephoto); and another eye
watching the match (wide angle).
It is the same when we read the Old Testament, Israel in the Old Testament filling in the frame (telephoto),
because as God told Pharaoh about Israel in Exodus 4, “Israel is my firstborn son, [but Israel is only there
because I have an agenda for the rest of the world (wide angle)]”. The agenda is about the big story that was
mentioned earlier- about God’s mission in bringing blessings to all the nations.
It takes the whole Bible to tell us God’s big story, and what was discussed here in the Old Testament of Israel
makes sense for His ultimate purpose - they are there to prepare the way for what God will do when He
brought the Lord Jesus Christ, and when Christ did come and died and was risen, He said to His disciples in
Luke 24:
“This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and
repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at
Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)
So even for Jesus, the grace of God was extending into the future into the missions of God’s people to the
very ends of the earth.
Therefore, all our lives are "framed" by what God has done in the past (to save us), and what God will do in
the future (redemption of all His creation).
So, who are we?
We are the people whom God has
redeemed out of bondage and slavery of
sins. We know God’s past grace through
the Lord Jesus Christ.
What are we here for?
We are here to be the people through whom God
is working to bring blessings to the nations in the
whole earth. We live our lives within our past and
our future, to serve the God who saved us, and
the God who wants to save others.
Rev Dr Christ Wright shared that such awareness about God’s past grace and plan for all nations had helped
him to make sense of his own life. In his own words:
“When it is all over, what would be the point of having been me? Why would it matter that someone in
this planet in his great cosmic history for all these thousands of years who live on the planet for an
amount of time, who had consumed so much food, drank so much water and breathe so much air, just
out of the sudden went back to the earth? Does it matters, and is there any point and meaning? Many
people are asking the same questions these days. Some religions and atheism do not give much meaning.
Where do we see our identity and our purpose in this vast universe of space and time?
As for me, increasingly, of course I know that I am a child of God and the Lord Jesus Christ has saved me,
and that I have a future with Him in eternity. However, there is also something that shares this in me,
“Look, my life, in sense, is part of the story which is much bigger than I am. I have a history that is
governed by the mission of God, which begun long before I came into the world and will continue long
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 4 of 11
after I leave the world, unless Christ comes first. Nevertheless, in that great story of what God is doing, in
God’s world for God’s purposes, I have a place, I mattered, God did something through my life. It may be
a tiny dot, but God has a purpose. To me, that is a good enough reason to live; and if He comes to earth,
it will be a good enough reason to die.”
Having looked into the Past and the Future, the story must ultimately come to the Present. After discussed
about the past grace of God’s salvation; seen what God has done when He brought the Israelites out of
Egypt; certain that we are saved by the blood of Christ through the death and resurrection of Jesus;
acknowledging the future grace of God’s mission; and knowing that the whole purpose of being the people
of God is to serve the mission of God in the world, now, this brings us to the present grace of God’s people
living in God’s world.
3. PRESENT Grace of God's people living in God's world (v.6)
“ ‘… you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words
you are to speak to the Israelites.”
In today’s 21st century, one may probably gulp a bit when reading the verse above, as words such as ‘priests’
and ‘holy’ are very religious sounding. What did the Israelites understand by those words? What does
priesthood mean?
God’s law
people to
to the
God's Priestly people
The job of the priests, as God's representatives, was:
1. To bring God to the people (Teaching God’s law to the people):
In the book of Leviticus, the priests were told that they must teach the Israelites all the decrees that the Lord
had given. Deuteronomy 33 says the following of the tribe of Levi, the tribe which the priests are from.
He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel. (Deuteronomy 33:10)
As such, when people failed to know God, prophets like Hosea, Haggai and Malachi blamed the priests. It
was believed that through the priests, the people would come to know God.
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 5 of 11
2. To bring people to God
The priests will bring the sacrifices to God at the altar. For example, an
Israelite in the Old Testament who had sin and needed some cleansing,
would present an animal as prescribed in Leviticus, would go to the
sanctuary and centre court, and have a priest to bring it over as his
sacrifice for the sin committed. The sin will then be “transferred” to the
animal through confession and laying of hand(s) on it. The animal will then
be killed and the blood is shed across the altar. The priest will then say,
“You sin is atoned for.” After that, when the sin is atoned for with the
sacrifice, the priest will enable the Israelite to come back into fellowship
with God and His people.
To bring God to the people and the people to God are the functions of a priest during those days. And God
said the exact same thing to the Israelites, telling them that their job is exactly that, “You will be for me to
the rest of the nations what your priests are for you.” The Israelites in the Old Testament and today’s
Christians (1 Peter 2:9-10) are the people through whom God will be known to the world, and through
whom ultimately God will draw to Himself, all which comes from Jesus. Jesus is the one through whom God
came to us, and the one through whom we come to God. In short, the word priest is a responsibility of the
whole community of God’s people, not just the clergy’s or the pastors’. This is what the New Testament said,
that we are to be God’s representatives on earth.
This is also exactly what Paul said in his missionary work, in Romans 15 when he was summarising his
“because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He gave me the
priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an
offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:15b-16).
Paul described his life work as a “priestly work”, albeit the fact that the tribe he came from would forbid him
from becoming an “actual priest” in Jerusalem, in an Israelite culture, during his days. The same concept is
applicable to all Christians. In 1 Peter 2:9-10, Peter wrote:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you
may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you
were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now
you have received mercy.
We are called to be the living representatives of the living God, to bring God to people, and to bring people
to God. That is our mission.
God's Holy people
“Holy”, in the context of today’s society, is very much misunderstood and off-putting with signs of pious and
up turn eyeballs. But the word “Holy” had nothing to do with all the misconceptions mentioned here. God is
not expecting His ‘holy nation’ to be especially “religious” people. The word holy in the Old Testament means
"different", or "distinctive".
In Leviticus 18:1-5 and 19:2, God said:
“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. You must not do as they do in
Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am
bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my
decrees. I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 6 of 11
by them. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 18:1-5)
What God is saying is: (1) “Do not follow the idolatry of Egypt,” which at that time, is the idolatry of power,
empire, armies and military might - like a Pharaoh; and (2) “Do not be like the Canaanites,” who worshiped
Baal who was the god of the land, fertility, sex, money, wealth, prosperity, success in business, etc. All these,
are idolatry. God wants us to be His people and live differently.
“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am
holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)
We have to be different, live differently, for our God is a different God, the living God, the God of justice, love
and compassion, the God who cares for the poor and the needy.
So what is holiness? It has to do with family life, children and parents, sexual integrity, but it also has to do
with how you run your farm (if you are a farmer), how you care for the poor and needy, how you treat the
disabled, the blind and the deaf, workers’ rights, paying workers a living wage, neighbourhood, health and
safety, criminal justice system, law court, ethnic group, business group, and the list goes on. Everything to do
with holiness is documented in Leviticus 19. In short, God called us to be different, and this is still God’s
calling to His people today- to live differently.
In Jesus' time, salt was used to preserve food as there were no fridges back then. Light is to expel the
darkness. Together, salt and light penetrate. They are efficient and dynamic. How do we get to be like the
salt and light in the world? Through fully obeying Him:
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured
possession. (Exodus 19:5)
Remember the double context of grace. Obedience is always the response to the grace of God.
Back to the questions: Who are we and what we here for?
1. We are the people who have experienced the past grace of what God has done in Christ
2. We are people whom God wants to use for the future grace of God's mission to bring people of all nations
to salvation.
3. We are people who are called to love in the present grace of obedience to God, so that the world will be
brought to God.
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 7 of 11
Sunday’s Celebration: By seeking the welfare of the people
around us (Jeremiah 29:1-14)
By Reverend Dr Chris Wright
How can we live in a society which dismiss us, despise us and make life difficult for us? How can we
be agents of transformation in such a situation today? This question is even tougher to answer for
the persecuted church around the world.
This passage was set when the Israelites were captured by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He
took some of them as refugees and captives; you may even call them prisoners of war. 10 years
later he went back and destroyed the city and burned the temple.
There were Jews who just wanted to die. Some of them were optimistic. They wanted it to be over.
They were asking, “Where is God? Is He defeated? Is He asleep?“ Jeremiah was the prophet during
that time and to speak to God’s people thousands of miles away, he wrote them a letter. Jeremiah
29 is one of the letters written.
I. A surprising new perspective (Jeremiah 29:1 – 6)
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You
want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and
right. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with
wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
The first thing God does is that He offers a surprising new perspective of the situation. Who was responsible
for the exile? In verse 1 “This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the
surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the
other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon,
Nebuchadnezzar took them to exile. In verse 4 This is what the Lord Almighty,
the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon,
verse 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried
you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper
and in verse 14, I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you
back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the
Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” We see that God orchestrated
the whole thing. The answer is both God and Nebuchadnezzar were involved.
From the point of human history, we see the wickedness, and destruction, death, loss, and trauma of the
world at that time. But behind the hand of Nebuchadnezzar was God. The people couldn’t accept this. They
rather believed Yahweh was defeated by the Babylonian gods. Jerusalem has been destroyed, the temple
was burned but God was in control of the situation. It is hard to affirm and believe that God is in control
when you put right through the situation. It is easier to believe that 200 years later that God was in the midst
of the suffering.
God called Abraham from Babel to Canaan but God seems to be reversing the situation. How can God keep
His promise when people are languishing in exile?
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 8 of 11
When Rev Chris Wright was a child, he heard of a shockwave of
missionaries in China were driven out by the communist party in the late
1940’s. Many were despaired that the largest country in the world has lost
its mission field. 50 to 60 years later and there are more worshippers in
China than the whole of the Western Europe. The end of the western
missionaries didn’t mean the end of God’s purpose in China. It was hard to
believe to see that God was in control at that time.
In verse 5 and 6 God says to them “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.
6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that
they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.” Be where you are
because God has put you there for the moment. Be there with God as long God puts you there.
Some people who took this advice to heart were Daniel and his 3 friends. They were taken away from their
parents and were sent to exile. They attended Babylon education, got good results and were selected to
serve the Babylonian government. They were there because God put them there.
I. A surprising new mission (Jeremiah 29:7-9)
Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it,
because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do
not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to
have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
Imagine the person who read the letter above, “seek for the peace of
Babylon”. The Jews were familiar with Psalm 122: 6-7 which says “Pray for
the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be
peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” The Jews wouldn’t
imagine praying for the peace of Babylon. In Psalms 137, we read “By the
rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. How can we
sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? They get bitter towards
Babylon at the end where it reads Happy is the one who seizes your
infants and dashes them against the rocks.” God asked them to be a blessing
to the nations, including the nations which are enemies. God teaches them to bless and pray for them. God
asks them to take care of their cities welfare. Daniel was an example of this. He went through his life as a civil
servant, not a prophet.
Nebuchadnezzar had a strange dream in Daniel 4:10-16
These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the
land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to
the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the
wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.
“In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger, coming
down from heaven. He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves
and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and
its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.
“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the
earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven
timespass by for him.
Many Jews would have been happy of the news. When Daniel heard this, he didn’t speak. When he was
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 9 of 11
prompted he said, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries!”
(Daniel 4:19) He goes on further, asking the king to repent if he didn’t want the judgement to fall on him.
Why would Daniel do that? He did not want to the king to fall on judgement but to be forgiven. Daniel
prayed for Babylon during his three times of prayer. It is hard to hate somebody when you are praying for
them for peace and blessing. Daniel followed what Jeremiah said. Paul also asked the Jews to pray for the
Roman Empire. God asks us to pray for our nation’s prosperity and blessing through education, drug
rehabilitation, governance etc. Are we good citizens of our country?
When Rev Chris Wright was in Argentina, he learnt that 3 of the speakers were
people of the marketplace from a lady who was putting the conference
together. After commending them, the lady added that they are not only good
speakers, but good husbands and good citizens. When asked why, she
explained “This is Argentina, they are contributing to the country and paying
taxes, not trying to get to America”. Is God asking you to be where you are and
be a blessing to your own country? Jeremiah was writing this from Jerusalem
and asking them to settle down. Babylon would fall under God’s judgement soon but Jeremiah still asked
them to do good and serve the society.
II. A surprising hope (Jeremiah 29:10-14)
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my
good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans
to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come
and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I
will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the
nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from
which I carried you into exile.” (Daniel 29:10-14)
The Jews were in Babylon because of God’s judgement. They kept breaking the
commandments. They were warned in Leviticus that they will be scattered.
Here, God gives them hope. It is not a ‘quick fix’ hope. It will be 70 years of
exile. It would look like a short time in a timeline but was a very long time for
the people who lived during that time. Most of the people hearing the letter
would not be there to see the verse come to pass. Jeremiah is speaking through
the eyes of their faith. Babylon’s time will come and God will bring Babylon
down and God gives them hope in verse 11.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to
give you hope and a future.(Daniel 29:11)
Many Christians hold on to this promise. When put in context, this
word was given to a people under God’s judgement. Because of the
grace and goodness of God, the Jews now have hope. Do they then
throw a party? No Jeremiah calls them to repentance. It was not a
time to be joyful but to seek God with obedience. In Daniel 9, he was
reading Jeremiah and calculated that there were two years left.
Daniel, instead of rejoicing, prayed for his own people. There are
Christians who dismissed society and glorified the church. But Daniel
prayed for his people. Jeremiah asks us to lift up our eyes and believe
in God where He will bless the nations through His people. We might
not see it now but God will lift his up his people to bless the nations.
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 10 of 11
We see the sovereignty of God in the mist of suffering, evil, and perplexities. God gives us a new perspective
to these exiles. It is still the original blessing of Abraham to bless the nations. God turns us from refugees,
mourners and victims to residents, missional and visionaries.
The question we ask ourselves is “Which are we going to be?” Only when we are transformed by this
perspective, mission and vision and hope do we become agents of hope to the nations around us.
Saturday Sermon summary contributed by Chrisandra Wong
Sunday Sermon summary contributed by Abbey Thangiah
Want to be emailed “The Leap Forward” and “ZES-T” regularly?
Register by emailing to [email protected] (our new email address!),
Or if you have a Yahoo email, join via [email protected]
Page 11 of 11